Challenge Day 30: Score!

I swear I have the 30-day challenge blues.  After pushing day after day, I’m pretty sad that there is no more challenge left and that sucks the wind out of my sails.  Funny since I expected Day 30 to be the day to end all days where I would stand atop the mountain of my achievement and look out with puffed chest congratulating myself for daring the impossible.

I’m sure that I have the blues.  Now that there is no challenge each day, what will I do with myself?  Haha!  Anything and everything. The interesting thing about challenges is that they beget challenges–a sort of challenge-addiction.  Tomorrow or later this week, I’ll ruminate about lessons learned.  In the meantime, let’s get on with our last challenge!

Today’s challenge: Take stock of the last 30 days.  How did you do?  What did you do well?  What did you not do well?  What would you like to continue to work on?  How did it go?  What did you learn?
I’ll be sorting through the lessons learned on this journey for days to come but in the meantime, here are the stats of what I attempted this month:

My closest friends can attest to the wonderful peace I gained in these 30 days as well as the struggle it was to complete these last few days.  I know I couldn’t have done it without them or you.  I also know that I’m not quite done yet.

While I was able to challenge myself to different things each day, I haven’t gained mastery over anything new.  I have an experience of what it is like to live a revolutionary life but I still have work to do.  Each day of these 30 days of challenges revealed so much about myself to me.

The greatest revelation is that this month was a buffet of challenges for me to choose from and work on extensively in the near future.  All the challenges have been interrelated.  They are all pulling for the same transformed, galvanized life.  The next step for me is mastery.

Gratitude: I am grateful for that I could complete this month of challenges when I’ve done nothing like this ever before

On the horizon: More results, lessons and mastery…the journey – to be continued.

This is the way the world endsThis is the way the world endsThis is the way the world endsNot with a bang but a whimper.1

Challenge Day 29: Dare to Want

One more day to go and suddenly I am incredibly exhausted.  I’d rather nap than blog.  The only thing that keeps me going is my promise.  Good thing I made one, otherwise I wouldn’t have continued.  Thank you for the strength you give me by reading and witnessing my journey.

The last few moments before the end of a grueling marathon can be the worst.  It is in those moments that your mind, body, being resolve whether to finish or to curl up in a ball right there.  The next challenge is important for me to keep going.  Come run with me.

Today’s challenge: Dare to want…wantonly.  Allow yourself to want for no reason.  Want things you’ve never wanted before.  Want until you want no more.  Write it all down.  Change your mind if you need to.  Keep going until you see what you say you want and match that to what you really want.  Write that list about ideal mate that you’ve resisted writing for years.  Go ahead, write it.  Want him and everything.  Go!

Wanting is such a odd thing.  Most of us don’t allow ourselves to want things fearing that wanting things that don’t manifest may kill us or be close to dying.  We treat our wants as if we will never have them and work to push them away.  In turn, we end up yearning those things that we deny.

We suffer when we live as if wanting is a reminder of our inadequacy.  We are stuck believing that we’re not enough to deserve or earn our wants.  What if wanting was a normal part of your day as simple and constant as brushing your teeth?  What if wanting was a tool that you use to design your life?  Today’s challenge is my opportunity to dream to the point of incredulousness, dance into the impossible and shed suffering.  So I will be writing that list and collaging my vision of heart-thumping future.  What have you not dared to want?

Today’s victory: I spent a wonderful weekend failing and winning at most of my challenges.  When I missed the challenge mark, I made sure I went back and hit it dead on.  That looked like heated discussions, impasses and, finally, peaceful resolution.  I’m glad I have these tools working actively in my life.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the incredible community that surrounds, supports and fuels my dreams.

On the horizon: The scoreboard

Challenge Day 28: Flow with It

My latest challenge is a culmination of sorts of all the challenges I’ve been exploring this month.  While all the work I’ve been doing has been about pushing beyond limits and reshaping my life, today’s practice involves a different way of approaching not just these challenges but life itself.

Today’s challenge: Stop fighting.  Go with the flow of life.  Use this flow to gauge whether what you’re doing is really what you want to do.  When it is not flowing, go elsewhere.  Go where you’re wanted.  Want where you’re going.  See where you can flow in all areas of your life.  Give up the struggle.

In all these years I’ve been good at powering my way through trouble spots.  I’ve used my will and stubbornness to achieve the impossible.  This hard-driving ambition has gotten me results all over the place, but what is the balance of these results in the overall scheme of things?

I have proven that I can get things done.  It’s time for me to stop proving.  It’s time to go where I’m wanted to–to pay attention to cues and do what comes naturally.  To flow, I need to pay close attention to what’s happening around and within me.  When I flow, I can live a life that is true for me.  I will love where I’m wanted.  Want where I’m loved.  There will be no struggle or sorrow.  Somehow, it will all work and make sense and if it doesn’t I will do something else…with great ease.  What does your flow look like?

Today’s victory: In a stupendous win for losing wait, I plotted out the rest of the entries for my blog this month and I have a plan to complete my NaNoWriMo writing challenge.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the solutions that show up even in the darkest hours.

On the horizon: Coming to terms with wanted things

Challenge Day 27: Lose Wait & Late

This next challenge is one I put off as long as I absolutely could.  In fact, I cheated to make sure it was one of the last challenges I did this month!  Rather than avoiding it any more to the point of further egregiousness, I’m biting the bullet and going for it for these next few days.

Today’s challenge: Give up procrastination and lateness.  For the rest of the month, do not live as if there’s tomorrow or that you have a right or an out that makes it ok to be late.  Lose wait.  Lose late. Go!

Oh, that time thing is one of my biggest issues and it’s closely bound to my procrastination.  Since this challenge is incredibly difficult for me, I had mercy on myself and am practicing it for a few days as a start.  I will challenge myself to 21 days straight of no procrastination or lateness in the next few months.  In the meantime, baby steps.

To come to terms with how detrimental procrastination and lateness have been in my life, I turn to a trusty passage:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

~Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5

There’s but so much time in this life.  There is no tomorrow.  It’s gone in a blink.  Why wait?

As for being late, it’s my m.o. all over the place…except for movies.  I am fanatically early for movies–at least an hour or 45 minutes early to shows.  I am committed to getting great seats, no stress finding seating and an overall enjoyable experience at the movies for which I am never, ever late.  Ever.  Odd for a person who is pretty much late for everything else.  I will attempt to apply such dedication to the rest of my life.

Being late, while it may seem innocuous to me since I really intend no harm, chips away at friendships and networks, constantly disappointing and creating mediocre expectations and strained acceptance of “that’s how she is”.

For the next few days, I will honor my friends, networks, commitments and myself by practicing a new-found awareness of and respect for time.  So no more 11th hour blogging and other transgressions…I need all the support I can get so my friends, countrymen/women lend me your encouragement.  It’ll take all that and then some for me to be successful.  My stomach flips at the thought but I’m ready to dive!

Today’s victory: Today’s victory was very simple.  I kept a promise that involved time, my usual nemesis.  Every time I meet the demands of time and promises without avoidance, it’s a huge win.

Gratitude: I am grateful for how much more free I become with each day.  Every day I grow.  I know that every new day presents a new opportunity for breakthrough.  For that I am utterly grateful.

On the horizon: Doing what comes naturally

Challenge Day 26: Have Compassion

I’m in the last stretch of this challenging month of challenges.  Right here I could kick back and say I’ve done quite a bit so I’ll slow down.  Since I’m playing to see something different this month, I won’t do that.  I’ve done that in the past.  Not now.  While I’m pushing, though, I have to remember to do what the next challenge requests I do for myself and others.

Today’s challenge: Practice utter compassion for others every chance you get.  Particularly in difficult, intractable situations and especially for yourself.  Pour compassion into everything you do.

A few weeks ago, Martha Beck tweeted about compassion:

Compassion is such a slick, selective thing.  I can be compassionate with people I like or feel a need to protect.  No problem.  People who I feel threatened by do not get compassion bestowed.  Thus far, I’ve been giving up being right and working on other methods to improve my communication with others.  This challenge asks me to go further and really care for others in the most difficult situations–to care about what I think they might care about.  Faced with compassion, enemy boundaries melt.  I explore this with trepidation but I am very sure that the composition of my heart will change with this application of compassion even in the toughest situations.

Then I’m to go even deeper the compassion game and give it to the last person I ever give it to: myself.  I’m a hard driver of self.  I work hard.  I go hard.  Relentless.  What would being compassionate look like for me?  I’m not sure but I know that it will make a huge difference and I’m willing to explore it.

Today’s victory: I was very kind to myself and gave gifts to myself that I would reserve for giving to others.  Exquisite self-care in action!

Gratitude: I am grateful for adventures awaiting my spark.

On the horizon: Something regularly avoided

24 S Bank St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Challenge Day 25: For-Give

It would be very obvious to post today about giving thanks since it is Thanksgiving after all–Happy Thanksgiving, by the way.   But I’ve been giving thanks all month and that would not be a challenge for me.   Instead, today is about another type of giving.

Today’s challenge: Practice forgiving. Wherever you can let someone or something off the hook.  Even better, let yourself off the hook and see where that leaves you.

Forgiveness is an interesting concept.  Many people feel that forgiveness is something that you give to others and often withhold it to punish others for transgressions.  Consider that forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself.

Punishing others is like taking poison & hoping someone else will die.  When you forgive, you release yourself from prison.  You don’t have to keep living in the transgression or the reaction to it.

This a practice that I have to concentrate on since, unchecked, I can hold a grudge.  Forever.  I have to remind myself of what life was like without the burden of upset.  To keep up this practice, I’ll have to literally keep my eye on the prize, constantly reminding myself of the life I want to live and what I have to shed to live it.  I’ll do what it takes.

Today’s victory: I spent time with a friend who I’ve had a tough time forgiving and I began to let go and was gracious with her.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the open hearts, home, family, food and welcome I experience this Thanksgiving Day.

On the horizon: Flowing

Challenge Day 24: Let It Go

A new day brings a new challenge.  Now that the Four Agreements are out of the way, I’m left with a week’s worth of challenges to dream up.  I dedicate the next seven challenges to things that I find the most difficult.  Today’s is something I have to keep practicing because it just never sticks.

Today’s challenge: Let things go.  Practice letting go as often as you can.  Let go of people, things, grudges, disappointments.  You name it.  Let it go.  Become a master of unburdening yourself.

Letting go is beyond difficult for me.  I tend to hoard memories and things.  I hold onto data, ideas and what we did last week.  I never forget how you hurt me or how you misunderstood me.  Even my home holds things I refuse to let go.  My favorite poem highlights how letting go feels like losing:

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Letting go can feel like dying–if we really know how that feels.  It’s a trick that the familiar plays so that you can continue on the same path.  Notice that when you let go, the bottom does NOT fall out of the world.  If fact the world opens up even more for you.

I can hold onto things that hurt me and keep me from moving forward or I can take a risk to see what will show up once I clear out the space.  For the next few days, I’m going to practice shedding thoughts and things, especially the unnecessary.  I’ll take it even further by letting go of the things I hold onto that seem crucial yet haven’t been useful.  I’ll get rid of those items so that I will room for something new.

So it is with heavy heart that I let go of that one that I want to love me so much that my memories overshadow the present.  I’m letting go of the past to make room for an unrecognizable future.  I will do this every chance I get for the rest of this month.  I wonder what I’ll do with all the space I create.

Today’s victory: I literally let go of something today and I feel great!




I let go of a whole lot of hair today (If only you could see the front!) Chopped!  I feel like a new woman.  Letting go can sometimes be fun.  Who knew? Let the games begin!

Gratitude: I am grateful for the delicious that always finds me.

On the horizon: Lightening my heart

Challenge Day 23: Always Do Your Best

Today is my last day of exploring don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements.  In the last few days, I have challenged myself to three of the Four Agreements:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Those agreements have been the most humbling of these 30 days of challenges because they really get to the heart of the things that make my life difficult.  They point to things subtly operating unnoticed and unchallenged in the background of my every day.  I speak carelessly.  I usually believe that everything that happens that hurts me was meant to undermine me.  How I see it must be the only way it is. That is truly a torturous life.  Yet we all live like that at some point until we realize that there are ways of looking at and doing things in life that simply don’t work.  They run the show and they run it badly, leaving our mental well-being in jeopardy.

The Four Agreements attempt to break up the gang of ineffective and sometimes detrimental behaviors to open us up to more options and give us an enhanced sense of freedom and peace.  What does life look like when I pay attention to what I say?  Am I telling the truth?  Am I speaking in a way that uplifts me and others?  What does life look like when I let go of the belief that people do things because of me?  What if the hurt I feel is because of my interpretation and not their intention?  What if I took the time find out what was really so for people in my life instead of jumping to conclusions?  What if I slowed down, asked and listened to what people were saying and requesting of me?  What would life look like?

Over the past few days of implementing three of the four practices, life is lot easier.  I’m not as attached to people seeing things my way or figuring out why people do things.  If I really want to know, I ask.  Then I accept what they say.  I believe the Four Agreements have a lot to do with becoming less attached to people, thoughts, beliefs and just flowing through life.  Practicing them gives you permission to be without necessarily having to know or prove everything.  It has been refreshing.  The last agreement lifts yet another burden.

Today’s challenge: Take on the fourth agreement.  Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

For me, this challenge is all about being gentle with myself and accepting where I am.  It isn’t a license to not achieve.  It is a license to achieve at different levels according to where I am and making that ok.  I will not expect myself to perform at the same level on few hours of sleep as I would after being well rested.  I will appreciate all that I can do and make sure that I do my best for where I am.  No slacking here, just the discernment to be able to answer the following.  What is my best right now?

Today’s victory: As part of my exquisite self-care I have been practicing giving myself permission to stop working instead of toiling endlessly.  The work will be there when I return.  I need to unplug and I make sure that I stop before I burn out.  Another victory is getting this post up well before midnight.  It’s been a while since I’ve done that. Yes!

Gratitude: I am grateful for the ability and will to figure it out.  I can strategize my way out of anything.  I am grateful for my mind and its acuity.

On the horizon: The elephant in my life

Challenge Day 22: Don’t Assume

Wow, one more week and November and my month of challenges will be over.  That went by faster than I imagined.  I wonder if I’ve done all my challenges justice.  We’ll see on the 30th!

Today’s challenge addresses a source of absolute torture for me.  I’m someone who often feels compelled to “know” everything, anything.  In instances where I just can’t “know”, I make it up–based on some great logic–but made up nonetheless.  The third of the Four Agreements is right on time.

Today’s challenge: Take on the third of the Four Agreements.  Don’t make assumptions.  Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Ever notice how some people always assume you think the worst of them?  If given two possible explanations as to why you did something, they would surely choose the least favorable one?

Consider that you can be just like that person.  In fact, you might be that person doing that to everyone and everything in your life.  It’s pretty eerie to me how many times I assume the worst of things, people and life.

This challenge pulls for me to do more than rest on my assumptions.  Instead I am charged to get explicit information about what’s really what by asking questions.

Asking questions is the very last thing I want to do, especially with people or situations where I feel prone to harm.  Yet it’s those answers that will most likely make me feel safe.    It’s funny how often I/we choose to not ask questions in order to be polite but all we do is replace those missed explanations with the most impolite, unkind theories.

So, I will work on the mastery of asking questions that make my stomach flip–questions tied to truths I’d rather avoid than address.  I’m showing assumptions the door and I’m welcoming transparency and peace.

Today’s victory: There have been so many that I haven’t shared this month.  Like the times I make sure that I take care of myself thoroughly and primarily each day.  Or the experiment that I have become in communication and relationships and all the rewards I reap from sticking to my commitments.

The highlight of today’s victories was overcoming taking things personal–the second agreement in action.  I have a very good friend who’s taking her sweet time to check out this blog even as I update her about it.   I suggested she get to it sooner than later since I add a new one each day and there’ll be thirty hearty entries before she knows it.

I tried to explain why it was important for her to read it as it was happening rather than months from now because I wanted her support and wanted to share it with her.   For her, it was fine that she’d get to it when she got to it.

I had to step back from the place of “Ugh, what kind of friend are you” again and again in that conversation.   I let her be and finally had to accept that, after explaining and requesting that she read it before the end of the month, that her answer was noncommittal if not bordering on a “no” and that it had nothing to do with me!  Ugh! Haha! Everything is not about me–at least not to peeople who aren’t me and it’s ok!  My friendship goes on and maybe one day she’ll read this.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the boundless energy I dip into every day to do what I do.  It never fails me.

On the horizon: Being ok with where and how I am

Challenge Day 21: It’s Not Personal

Yesterday’s challenge was to be impeccable with my word, the first of don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements.  I have taken on these agreements in the past and done relatively well.  They have been very helpful but not lasting.  I have to keep reminding myself to keep doing them or they disappear.

This time was no less difficult.  I’m very clear that the words that come out of my mouth shape my world and give me the life that I have, but that doesn’t remove the inclination to grumble, exaggerate and use words to fuel dissatisfaction instead of staving it.  Most of this month’s challenges have had some element of being mindful of what I say and think.  Being impeccable with my word requires a vigilance that is not my norm.

As usual, I did well until I came across a situation where my upset trumped my commitment to an extraordinary life.  In those cases, I’ve had to go back and apologize and restore my word.  I’ve been doing a lot of apologizing this month and I’m happier for it.  Restoration is the flavor of the month.  Today’s challenge will help in those situations as well.

Today’s challenge: Take on the second of the Four Agreements.  Don’t take anything personally.  Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

This, by far, is the most difficult agreement for me to work on.  Actually, it’s the most difficult challenge for me this month.  I take everything personally.  I’m sure that you/he/they tweeted that, said that, did that knowing that it would hurt my feelings.  Of course it was about me and meant to disparage me.  Right?

What does taking things personally do for me other than create opportunities for suffering?  If I considered that people do what they do without targeting me, what would that look like?

I’d have less anxiety if I wasn’t trying to figure out people’s motives.  I could let them be.  I could let me be.  I’d have more energy for the things I love to do.  Without of the burden of perceived judgment or rejection, I’d be free to dance through life.  I am the source of suffering in my world.  I get to say whether it can stay or go.  I promise to do my best these next few days to actively remind myself that it’s not personal.

Today’s victory: I was able to dig deep into my network across continents to assist someone I love and respect. I am more powerful and influential than I imagine.  I can make a difference in places and ways that I never thought of.  You are too.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the talents and abilities that I’ve been blessed with that I often take for granted or assume everyone else possesses.  I understand that these gifts are mine own.   For that, I am beyond grateful.

On the horizon: When ducks aren’t ducks.